Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2018):
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences helps employees plan securely for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and retirement planning assistance -- the organization also offers phased-in work options to help employees transition
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences supports employees who are new mothers with maternity and parental leave top-up payments and a generous subsidy for in vitro fertilization when needed (to $15,000) -- also offers parental top-up for new fathers or adoptive parents and operates onsite daycare
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences maintains a formal staff recognition program to celebrate exceptional performance in a variety of fields including customer service, clinical and nursing excellence, teaching, and innovation and research -- employees are also encouraged to send inclusive messages of thanks to colleagues through the online "A World of Thanks" initiative
Sunnybrook has a healthy prescription for leadership
Fatima da Costa was having a crucial conversation. As coordinator of the Education Advisory Council at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, she works with education and professional leaders to ensure that the goals of the hospital's strategic plan for education are met and to organize the annual education conference.
Da Costa was in a work-related conversation with a colleague during which emotions ran high. To defuse the tension, da Costa drew upon the communications skills she learned at a course called Crucial Conversations.
"The discussion had a positive outcome," she says. "I think everyone at Sunnybrook would benefit from the course and learning how to handle a high-stakes conversation."
The course is one of 100 non-clinical offerings of the Sunnybrook Leadership Institute, which provides learning opportunities on how to be a Sunnybrook leader and a better manager in general. The courses or certificate programs are open to all emerging and existing leaders across the hospital's diverse workforce, including, among others, physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers.
Says Dr. Andrew Smith, President & CEO: "You not only want to bring the best people onto your team but then provide opportunities for them to get better. What I am most proud of are our continuing-education efforts to bring our people together across professions."
"Health care is a team sport," he explains. "Especially at a hospital like ours, which takes care of some of the most acute, complex conditions -- like trauma, burns and strokes -- you have to nurture and grow people, but you have to do the same for teams. Most of our offerings seek to bring together a wide swath of our professionals and of staff in general."
The institute focuses on the development of three levels of leaders: emerging leaders -- not yet in a management position, but future leaders -- developing leaders -- who are already middle managers -- and advanced leaders -- who are usually at the director level and should be role models for others. Since 2014, over 11,000 staff and physicians have participated in the institute's workshops and programs.
"There are a variety of ways in which we present the learning," says Marilyn Reddick, Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development & Leadership. Some courses, such as Finance 101, which explores the intricacies of health-care budgeting, are created by in-house content experts.
Others are created in partnership with the York University and University of Toronto business schools and taught by their professors at Sunnybrook, while others, like Crucial Conversations, are licensed from proprietary providers and taught by Sunnybrook instructors.
"It is not about just taking a course," says Reddick. "It's about making what you learn part of your work day. Participants are asked to do an evaluation at the end of the course, and then again, six months later, to see whether it has translated into day-to-day leadership."
The institute offers nine programs, each comprising five to seven courses. Participants who complete a program receive a certificate. Da Costa, who has been with Sunnybrook only four years, has already earned two certificates. She joined 400 co-workers in a graduation ceremony in September.
In addition to the nine programs, there are numerous other educational sessions and just-in-time learning, depending on projects within the hospital.
"When people go to these courses," says Dr. Smith, "they not only benefit from the content but it's also a new way to interact with their colleagues across professions. They learn in unexpected ways just by being together in a different type of setting."
Sunnybrook focuses on building team leadership
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is a teaching hospital where the learning never stops. Much of that learning takes the form of non-clinical courses or certificate programs offered by the Sunnybrook Leadership Institute (SLI).
Its courses or certificate programs are open to all emerging and existing Sunnybrook leaders across the hospital's varied workforce -- among others, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers.
Says Dr. Andrew Smith, President & CEO: "It makes sense to hire the best and the brightest and then to make sure you are constantly trying to nurture them, challenge them, grow them and give them opportunities to learn. The ideas of continuing education and professional development are deeply embedded in health care, especially at Sunnybrook."
One of the institute's greatest contributions, he adds, is bringing personnel together as cross-professional groups and "eschewing the notion of developing individual groups within their silos." In his own career at Sunnybrook, Smith says he has benefited enormously from the professional development opportunities it has presented.
The SLI focuses on developing three tiers of leaders: emerging leaders -- who are not yet in a management role, but are future leaders; developing leaders -- who are already middle managers; and advanced leaders -- who are usually at the director level and should be role models for others.
Some courses, such as Finance 101, which covers the intricacies of health care budgeting, are created by in-house content experts. "A lot of what we, especially physicians, know about fiscal management is learned on the job," says Smith. "We have tried to fill that gap with courses like this."
Other Institute courses are created in partnership with the York University and University of Toronto business schools and taught by their professors at Sunnybrook; while still others, like Crucial Conversations -- techniques for how to communicate effectively with colleagues on sensitive issues -- are licensed from proprietary providers and taught by Sunnybrook instructors.
"We brought people together to learn on-site rather than dispersing them all over the city to do their learning," says Marilyn Reddick, Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development & Leadership. Since 2014, over 11,000 staff and physicians have participated in the institute's workshops and programs.
The institute offers nine programs, each comprising five to seven courses. Participants who complete a program receive a certificate. A cohort of 400 employees received certificates at a graduation ceremony in September 2017.
Dr. Calvin Law, Chief of Sunnybrook' s Odette Cancer Centre, says the institute's courses were so valuable to his 700+ staff that the SLI and the cancer centre collaborated to design a program especially for the centre's identified leaders. It was launched in the autumn of 2016.
The first part, attended by nearly 30 leaders, focused on inter-personnel skills, "such as how to have proper conversations and create a respectful workplace," says Law. The second part, intended for 20 leaders with greater responsibility, emphasizes skills such as coaching and financial management.
There are many other educational sessions as well as just-in-time learning, depending on activities or projects within the hospital. For example, Sunnybrook is opening a complex malignant hematology unit for specialized treatment of individuals with blood cancers such as leukemia. "We will do just-in-time learning to plan for what is involved in taking on these patients," says Reddick.
The SLI strives to be broadly inclusive, says Smith. "That reflects how things happen in a health-care system. They happen by teams. They don't happen by just one area, and you shouldn't educate by just one area."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 20, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2017):
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences conducted an in-house commuter survey to assist in long-term transportation planning programs, which already include secure bicycle parking cages, support for a dedicated Bikers User Group (or BUGS), a car pooling program and 4 shuttle buses with free rides for employees (and mounted bike racks) -- the hospital has repeatedly been recognized by Smart Commute as a "GOLD Workplace" for its focus on alternative transportation
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences employs two senior-level personnel who lead the evolution and implementation of the "Environmental Sustainability Policy", which encompasses five primary areas: energy and water conservation, waste management, transportation, procurement, and awareness and education
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences manages a number of enhanced waste management programs, from aggressive recycling and reuse programs to a unique anesthetic gas absorption technology that reduces the amount of waste gas released into the environment, a seemingly small initiative but equivalent to removing over 200 cars from the road
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018):
- In partnership with the Toronto District School Board, Sunnybrook Health Sciences accepts up to 75 high school students annually as part of its Experiential Learning Co-Operative Program -- and also works with local high schools to offer volunteer opportunities for 450 students each year as well as a co-op/apprenticeship program in skilled trade positions such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences hosts an annual Healthcare Student Career Fair with 25 interactive booths representing healthcare disciplines available for participants to speak with heathcare professionals